Residents Slam Planned Storage Facility

Narraville residents are opposing the development of a storage facility for highly toxic material near their neighbourhood. They feel so gly about the matter that they have threatened to protest to the highest office for relief.

Residents are upset that dangerous materials such as explosives, gases, flammable liquids and solids, oxidizing substances and toxic matter will be stored in close proximity to their homes if the planned facility gets the green light.

Residents say if anything goes wrong at the site hundreds of people could lose their lives.

The old underground military communication bunker that lies east of Walvis Bay, about 30 kilometres from Narraville, was identified as the site for the storage facility by the developers, Native Holdings. The bunker was used by the South African apartheid army and has not been used since the reincorporation of Walvis Bay into Namibia in 1994 with one guard looking after the site.

Native Holdings was in principle already handed the site by the Walvis Bay Municipality during 2012. But on Tuesday the municipality made a U-turn during a consultative meeting organised by EnviroSolutions which undertook the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the controversial project.

The tense meeting attended by various councillors including the Mayor of Walvis Bay, Uilika Nambahu, the CEO of Walvis Bay, Muronga Haingura, and councillor Derek Klazen reached a climax when residents demanded the meeting be stopped as Nampol and other stakeholders were not in attendance.

Klazen during the meeting said the matter should be relooked as the municipality was unaware the bunker would be used for toxic material that could compromise the safety of residents.

NamWater also raised their concern. A representative of NamWater said their major water supply pipelines runs close to the bunker and could be damaged if the “unexpected occurred at the bunker”.

Businessman Ivan Marshall said that giving the facility the go-ahead to be used for toxic waste storage would be “reckless and dangerous”. “It seems like they want to make Naraville a dumping site for nuclear waste. But we as residents say no to such development. They should look at other alternatives. We will oppose and fight it for the well-being of our residents,” said the businessman. He said Namibia should not take chances with such a project and rather learn from past nuclear disasters around the world. Former municipal pollution officer Salie Moegamat also expressed his disappointment and questioned why the bunker was still in existence. “That structure reminds us of the apartheid system. It should have been dismantled years ago. In the case of nuclear waste and dangerous materials being stored so close to the community it is a great risk. I have worked with such substances myself and know the consequences, one can never be prepared,” he said.

Native Holdings representative Thomas Jonas told the meeting that some of the dangerous materials are currently “roaming around the town” without anyone being aware. “Where these goods are stored and whether it is handled according to regulations we don’t know. For all we know it can be in your backyard or in a warehouse that does not comply with international regulations to handle such material. What we are going to do is to provide a safe storage for these goods,” Jonas explained. He said Native Holdings would be guided by international standards in terms of the specifications of the material they would handle.

“Currently there are many commodities that are not safely stored. This facility will obviously take care of dangerous goods until it is use or transported,” he said.

The EIA report states: “Some of these goods received through the port are classified as dangerous goods by national and international standards. Capacity is a concern for Namport as the harbour is limited as storage facilities for such goods and materials require legislation and standards compliance, which is lacking in certain instances. It is with this background that Native Storage Facility (Native Holdings) is offering a solution to ease capacity and non-compliance issues by availing a state of the art storage facility for dangerous goods and other hazardous substances.”. Native Storage Facility is a 100 percent Namibian entity, registered with the appropriate authorities. The project team has a combined experience and expertise in international and maritime dangerous goods storage (IMDG Code which is a UN Standard).

Source : New Era